Two brothers but only one femme fatale.

Watching anyone’s first movie, or, in this case, first narrative, can be a bit of a gamble, with Rudolf Buitendach’s thriller Dark Hearts no exception, and while I can say with all honesty I didn’t have high hopes for this movie, I was glad to be proven very wrong. Dark Hearts engaged me right from the very start, through to the taught end, where some nice pacing from the South African director delivered its finale in style. Dark Hearts isn’t an easy film to pin down to allow me to offer other examples for comparison, but, suffice to say it’s bloodthirsty and sexy, with a lot of winning elements that wouldn’t appear amiss in anything derived from that famous Bram Stoker novel.

Colson (Kyle Schmid) is another starving artist looking for something to inspire him to help create interest in his work and put food on the table. Colson and his younger brother Sam (Lucas Till) go to an underground club where Colson finds himself strongly attracted to the sexy singer Fran (Sonja Kinski). After a quick introduction, Fran and Colson begin a love affair, but Fran’s current gangster boyfriend, Armand (Goran Visnjic), is none-too-pleased about her new arrangement and quickly makes it known that Fran belongs to him. Colson throws caution to the wind and the pair continue, but it ends up going awry, as murder, jealousy, and the need for human blood are introduced into the plot.

Dark Hearts
Directed by
Rudolf Buitendach
Kyle Schmid, Sonja Kinski, Lucas Till
Release Date
30 April 2014
Nav’s Grade: B

I know you’re dying to ask how we know Fran is singing in an underground club, and it’s quite simple really. Apart from tons of goth makeup in evidence, a young woman is wearing a steel bra with huge pointy nipples, creating loads of sparks with a handheld grinder. Problem solved!

Dark Hearts is certainly dark and moody, and when I discovered it was penned by Christian Piers Betley, I can’t say I was all that surprised, however, I was delighted when It turned out I’d seen all of Betley’s films and enjoyed all four, so far, even though this was actually the writer’s first film with it only now on general release. Paired with Buitendach’s direction, this thriller is an effective piece of film for the mature audience, as it tackles very dark subjects, like child abuse and we see women being beaten several times.

Buitendach also coaxed some solid performances from the actors, with some nice chemistry developing between Kinski’s Fran and Schmid’s Colson, and between Colson and Sam. It’s clear from their initial meeting that Fran will be a destructive force in Colson’s life but the artist becomes so smitten she becomes like a drug to him. By Fran’s mere presence, Colson is inspired to produce work like never before, however, it’s not long before he begins to use human blood in his work, in place of paint. Getting the blood isn’t easy but they eventually find a good solution, especially after using their own proves problematic.

In the smaller, but no less important roles, Rachel Blanchard, Juliet Landau and Goran Visnjic each do some very good work. Juliet Landau as Astrid the gallery owner, was an interesting part for the actress to play. I’ve seen Landau take on a number of small roles, like in Toolbox Murders or InSight and I’ve always been impressed. Rachel Blanchard as the jilted lover also managed her character with ease. I’m not familiar with the beautiful actress but I certainly enjoyed seeing her play Clarissa, a character that goes through a number of changes. Goran Visnjic looked to have enjoyed playing Fran’s brutal ex lover, Armand, as he beat up everyone who got in his way, Fran included. The best I’ve seen from Visnjic was when he performed beside the brilliant Tilda Swinton in the 2001 mystery effort, The Deep End.

Kyle Schmid is an extremely talented actor, who really got into his character and gave it his all, taking over each scene he was in. In playing the younger brother Sam, Lucas Till also did well, and with Till appearing in the upcoming X-Men film, X-Men: Days of Future Past, you have to wonder if that played any part in Dark Hearts finally being released. Whatever the reason, it’s too good a film to be sitting on a shelf collecting dust. Sam and Colson have a deep bond that Fran threatens to interfere with just by being near the brothers. They had been brutalized by their father, and now Colson feels responsible for his younger brother.

The stunning Sonja Kinski is by far the least experienced of the bunch, and when she filmed her part as Fran, back in 2012, this was the actresses first major role. I think she handled herself extremely well, and looks to have a bright future. Interestingly, Sonja Kinski is the granddaughter of Klaus Kinski, who is famous for his role as the gunslinging hunchback in For a Few Dollars More, but more fittingly in this instance, he played Count Dracula in the 1979 horror, Nosferatu the Vampyre. Perhaps appearing in vampiric-like movies is … in their blood?

by Nav Qateel